Distinguished Texas conductor dies on his birthday
On this day in 1976, Victor Alessandro died in San Antonio. The day was also his sixty-first birthday. The Waco native had become conductor of the San Antonio Symphony Orchestra in 1951, after the death of Max Reiter in 1950. The next year he also assumed leadership of the San Antonio Symphony Society's Grand Opera Festival. Alessandro was noted for performances of Tchaikovsky, Richard Strauss, Brahms, and Beethoven. He introduced works by Bruckner, Mahler, and Berg to San Antonio audiences before they became fashionable elsewhere. He conducted memorable performances of Elektra, Salome, Nabucco, Boris Godunov, Susannah, Die Meistersinger, and the standard operas of Verdi and Puccini. In building the San Antonio orchestra he was an exacting, often irascible taskmaster of high musical standards. Alessandro received honorary doctorates from the Eastman School of Music and Southern Methodist University and the Alice M. Ditson Award for service to American music. Recordings of his work include Claude Debussy's Martyrdom of St. Sebastian, light accompaniments, Vivaldi and Rodrigo guitar concertos, and works by Richard Strauss and John Corigliano. With his health declining, Alessandro retired in 1976.